Tuesday, January 05, 2010

A test exercise?? [u x 3]

What? Is this "part of a test exercise which appears to have gone wrong" or is it a not-so-subtle attempt to scare us into accepting increased security measures? Anyone want to bet that we get full-body scanners at our airports soon? It's only a matter of time before you won't be allowed on a plane without submitting to a full strip search: that's one way to cut aviation carbon emissions.

Who do we think it was? The UK hoping to get a clamp on what must look to them like an easy back-door route around their own security fence? Mossad with a similar aim in mind? DGSE hoping we'll shut up about Thierry Henry?

Maybe the government should appoint Martin Ferris to investigate - he knows lots about the illegal importation of weaponry.

Are we paranoid? Are we paranoid to think that it's very convenient that Hammam Khalil al-Balawi can be discredited as a double-agent? Would we be paranoid to think that CIA would kidnap a man off the streets of Milan and hand him over to torturers in Egypt?

[update]
The Irish-ish Independent is reporting that the arrested man is believed to be from Slovakia.

From RTÉ NEWS:

[update] A newer version of the RTÉ story:

Explosive reached Ireland after failed test
Tuesday, 5 January 2010 16:24

A quantity of explosive, found in a flat on Dorset Street in Dublin this morning, was brought into the country following a failed security operation in Slovakia.

It is understood the explosive was one of eight pieces of contraband planted by the authorities in the luggage of unsuspecting passengers at Bratislava Airport in Slovakia last weekend as part of a test of security procedures.

Seven were detected by airport security, but the eighth - 90g of research development explosive or RDX - was put in the luggage of a Slovakian electrician who lives and works in Dublin.

The 49-year-old unwittingly brought the material to Dublin when he returned from Christmas holidays.

Gardaí were eventually alerted this morning following a call from police in Bratislava and the flat on Dorset Street was sealed off.

During the operation, the adjoining homes and businesses were evacuated as the Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit removed the explosive for further analysis.

Both Gardiner Street and Lower Dorset street were closed off for about an hour.

The Slovakian man was arrested at the scene, but gardaí are now satisfied that he is innocent and he was released from custody this afternoon. He will not face charges.

The Departments of Justice and Foreign Affairs have been informed and the incident will be dealt with through diplomatic channels.

Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern said he was very concerned about the fact that the gardaí were not alerted for three days and has asked for a full report.


Labour's Joe Costello has called for Dermot "Torquemada" Ahern to issue a full statement on the matter. Predictably, Costello is worried about airport security:
We need to know what questions it raises about the security systems at Dublin airport and the procedures used by airlines flying to and from Ireland. If explosives can apparently be so easily smuggled into the country as part of a test exercise, then it presumably suggests that similar material could be smuggled in by those with more sinister motives.


If the point of this "accident" was to get our public representatives in a righteous tizzy about beefing up security then it appears to be working very nicely. Still, Torquemada really does need to say something soon.


For the sake of completeness here's the older versions of the RTÉ story (see the time stamps):

Foreign link to Dorset St explosive find
Tuesday, 5 January 2010 15:38

A 49-year-old man has been arrested following the discovery of explosive material in a flat on Dorset Street in Dublin.

RTÉ News has learned that the commercial explosive was illegally brought into the country as part of a security operation by another country.

It is understood the man, who is from Slovakia, ended up in Ireland with the explosives as part of a test exercise which appears to have gone wrong.
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The man entered Ireland through Dublin Airport on Saturday afternoon.

Gardaí received a phone call this morning from a security service abroad, telling them that a man was in a flat in Dorset St with around 100g of an explosive known as RDX.

The adjoining homes and businesses were evacuated, roads were closed and the Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit removed the explosive for further analysis.

Both Gardiner Street and Lower Dorset street were closed off for about an hour this morning.

The Departments of Justice and Foreign Affairs have been informed and the incident will be dealt with through diplomatic channels.


and

Foreign link to Dorset St explosive find
Tuesday, 5 January 2010 13:39

A 49-year-old man has been arrested following the discovery of explosive material in a flat on Dorset Street in Dublin.

RTÉ News has learned that the commercial explosive was illegally brought into the country as part of a security operation by another country.

It is understood the man and the explosives ended up in Ireland as part of a test exercise which appears to have gone wrong.

Gardaí received a phone call this morning from a security service abroad, telling them that a man was in a flat in Dorset St with around 100g of commercial explosive.

The adjoining homes and businesses were evacuated, roads were closed and the Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit removed the explosive for further analysis.

The Departments of Justice and Foreign Affairs have been informed and the incident will be dealt with through diplomatic channels.

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